Tour Notebook: Tiger on the up, McDowell going backwardsJuly, 2015
The Tour stories that you might have missed
Tiger’s back, maybe?
In the 2013 season Tiger Woods won five tournaments of 16 starts on the PGA Tour, including two WGCs and top 10s at Augusta and Muirfield.
Now we are all starting to get excited about a tie for 32nd at The Greenbrier. Rounds of 66-69-71-67, the 67 his first bogey-free round in his last 55 outings, have given more cause for optimism than anything we’ve seen so far this season. At Augusta he was T17 but hit only two fairways in his closing 73.
Now, after the early season bout of shambolic chipping, the putter just needs to warm up to be properly competitive. The swing changes, he insisted, were put in place at the Memorial, where he had a third-round 85.
“I made a big, giant step at Memorial,” he said. “The pattern was set. I just had to refine it. This week we did that. We definitely refined it. I was excited about what I was able to do at Memorial, even though I shot those high numbers, shifting the baseline like I did.
The 39-year-old only needed 25 putts on Thursday, thereafter there were 32, 31 and 31.
“This could have been one of those special rounds. It’s the best I’ve hit it in a very long time. I had full control over all clubs. I just need to make some putts. The putts that I read perfectly, I hit right, they still lipped out.”
Next stop St Andrews, home to two of his three Open victories.
Back to basics for McDowell
Graeme McDowell arrived in Paris looking for a third straight French Open title – he left on Friday night after a back nine of 42.
The Northern Irishman has one top 10 on the European Tour this season, one more than the PGA Tour, and he admitted that he needs to ’clear his mind’ if he is going to arrest his semi alarming slide. At the start of the week he was 48th in the world and he is now heading outside the all-important top 50.
“I have a lot of technique in my head to be honest and I have to strip that out; I’ve got to get back to basics.
“I’ve been working too hard on trying to get the technique fixed and have been making it worse. I know it’s in there; you take the rough with the smooth and it’s been a great three or four years. I will dig this out and I’ll be back.”
After the first round McDowell was only four back, he then added a 78, his worst effort in 32 rounds at the 2018 Ryder Cup venue.
A win, finally, for Allen
Beth Allen’s story is a fascinating one. While most women dream of making it to America, Allen has crossed the Atlantic to make her name.
Allen is one of the most popular players on the LET having joined in 2008. She now lives in Edinburgh and plays at Falkirk GC.
Last year she enjoyed her best season finishing 8th on the Money List after six top 10s. Now she has a win having prevailed at the Ladies European Masters at The Buckinghamshire.
The fascinating part of the story is because the Californian donated a kidney to her brother in 2011.
Three years ago Allen had a treble-bogey seven at the 17th with the tournament in her grasp. This time she finished with a 67 to squeeze past World No. 1 amateur Leona Maguire.
And on her bag was Sophie Gustafson, who will be one of Carin Koch’s assistants at this year’s Solheim Cup.
For the kidney donation Allen twice had to twice go through three days of 24-hour urine collection, a CT scan of all her organs, two electro cardiograms and ‘a lot of blood work’. The operation took place on March 1 and she was back playing in May.
And her brother is doing well.
Five birdies with the sand wedge
Robert Streb might not have won The Greenbrier but he left his mark after making it into the play-off after putting with his 56˚ wedge from the 10th hole onwards.
The American tossed his putter towards his bag on the 9th when it snapped at the bottom of the shaft, at the time he was one off the lead.
He then knocked in five birdie putts coming home and just ‘three-wedged’ once at the 17th. He was allowed to use a replacement in the extra holes but he never got to use it as Danny Lee and David Hearn made birdies.
“I’m going to call it now, I think Laura Davies will make the team” – Mel Reid
LD still a Solheim threat
In a recent interview Mel Reid suggested that we might not have seen the back of Dame Laura Davies at the Solheim Cup.
“I’m going to call it now, I think Laura will make the team.”
The 51-year-old, who played in the first 12 clashes, has been showing some nice form of late and she added a top 10 at The Buckinghamshire courtesy of a hole-in-one at the 7th. She also had one in the pro-am of the same event last year and this was her 11th ace.
The round of the week belonged to 21-year-old rookie Alex Peters who fired a 63 on day two. The youngster had 10 3s and came home in 29 to equal the all-time record on the LET.
18 straight 4s and a slice of history
Less dramatic but almost as remarkable was Renato Paratore’s 18 4s on the scorecard, something that had never been done before on the European Tour in what is estimated to be over 700,000 rounds.
The Italian had three birdies, four bogeys and 11 pars for a 72 which meant he finished four short of making the cut.
Cabrera-Bello bounces back to make the Open
Twelve players made it through Final Qualifying on Tuesday, including five amateurs, former conservatory fitter Mark Young and two-time US Open champion Retief Goosen, now James Morrison, Jaco Van Zyl and Rafa Cabrera-Bello will join them at St Andrews.
Morrison finished on 10 under, three behind the winner in France, Bernd Wiesberger, while Van Zyl did his damage in a third-round 64.
Cabrera-Bello had a double and a treble in a front nine of 40 but then holed his approach at the 12th, birdied the next, eagled 14 and then birdied the last which had caused all sorts of problems all week.
Wilkinson winner at Orchid Masters
James Wilkinson took a big career step after the Cumbrian recorded a first win on the PGA EuroPro tour and got his hands on £10,000.
He just missed out on the course record, having to settle for a 63, but it was more than enough to finish three shots clear of his nearest rival.
Fans share in hole-in-one windfall
How to keep the fans happy? Pay them. Hundreds shared around £123,000 as Americans George McNeill and Justin Thomas holed their tee shots at the 18th at The Greenbrier.
McNeill earned each spectator who was there to witness his ace $100 (£64) while Thomas’ tee shot paid out $500 (£320). Had there been another the lucky fans would have trousered $500 (£320) for their efforts.
The deal was funded by the course owner Jim Justice.
Coming up this week..
Jordan Spieth will be in action at the John Deere Classic the week before the third leg of his Grand Slam tilt.
Last year the youngster finished in the top 10, the previous year it was the scene of his first PGA Tour win and one which saw him make his way to Muirfield where his clothes and belongings finally joined him on the Tuesday.
Some are wondering why he would want the bother of teeing it up at TPC Deere Run but Spieth will continue to do things his way.
Otherwise the Scottish Open heads to Gullane in East Lothian and Michelle Wie defends her US Women’s Open crown.